A root canal is performed in order to save your tooth as opposed to extract it. Underneath your tooth’s outer enamel and within the dentin is an area of soft tissue called the pulp which contains nerves, veins and arteries. When the pulp becomes damaged or infected, it becomes vulnerable to infection from the bacteria normally present in your mouth. Root canal treatment removes the infected tissue which, in the pulp chamber, cannot heal on its own. If untreated, the infection will worsen, become more painful, and cause other health problems.
Without treatment, the infection will spread, the bone around the tooth will begin to degenerate, and the tooth may fall out. Pain usually worsens until one is forced to seek emergency dental attention. The only alternative is usually extraction of the tooth, which can cause surrounding teeth to shift crookedly, resulting in a bad bite. Though an extraction is cheaper, the space left behind will require an implant or a bridge, which can be more expensive than root canal therapy. If you have the choice, it’s always best to keep your original teeth.
During treatment, your mouth will be numbed for your comfort. The infected tooth will be isolated by a rubber sheet and an opening will be made through the top into the pulp chamber. Infected tissue is then carefully removed.
Depending on your individual cases, the root canal and pulp chamber may be permanently filled and sealed. Or in some cases, medication may be inserted into the area to fight bacteria. A temporary filling is placed in the opening of the tooth until next visit or it may be left open in order to allow the infection to drain. Dr. Zheng will decide what is right for your case and do whatever is necessary to assure your comfort.
The temporary filling will be replaced with restorative material at the next appointment, and X-rays ensure that none of the infected tissue remains. Once filled, the area is permanently sealed. Finally, a gold or porcelain crown is normally placed over the tooth to strengthen its structure to prevent the fracture and improve the appearance.